You pick your moments with the McLaren F1. To drive it safely on British roads, with consideration to other road users, requires considerable mental discipline. You have to accept that, save on empty autobahns, there is no way you will sample the F1’s performance potential safely and legally on a public highway. The truth is that, even for drivers of exceptional experience and skill, driving the McLaren fast in public is an exercise in restraint.
For this is a car that can exit a curve at 60mph onto a straight and, just 11.4sec later, be travelling at 160mph. This is a car that will accelerate from 100 to 200mph considerably faster than most quick cars will reach 100mph from a standstill. This is a car which, unless driven with a cool head, could land you in greater trouble than you could imagine. As we said, you pick your moments.
Happily, though, it is a car that is both simple and enjoyable to drive slowly. The engine, despite having a specific output of 103bhp per litre, the highest of any normally aspirated production engine, uses its capacity and variable valve timing to summon huge chunks of torque from idle onwards.
The clutch is a little lighter that you’d expect given the power it must transmit, and it bites gently. The engine has no flywheel so the revs don’t so much fall as vanish when you lift your right foot, but so swift is the six-speed gearbox that changing gear smoothly is simple.